Through mental health treatment, I’m being told that what’s been my reality for the last 10 years or so is not reality. I don’t really know how to cope with this. It’s making me question literally everything, and I feel completely overwhelmed about learning what’s real and what isn’t. How do I deal with this?
The fact that you are changing and seeing things differently because of therapy is generally a healthy thing. That is the outcome of good therapy.
You might be confusing reality with opinion. There is only one reality whereas there are endless numbers of opinions. An opinion is a subjective statement about a like or a dislike. For instance, it might be my opinion that chocolate ice cream is better than vanilla ice cream. You might disagree with my opinion and believe that the vanilla ice cream is better than chocolate ice cream.
Reality is very different than opinion. There is no such thing as my reality and your reality. There is only one reality. Reality is objective whereas “your reality or my reality” is subjective and falls into the realm of opinion. Reality can be proven and it is based on science and logic.
For instance you might decide to pick up a hitchhiker because, in your sincere opinion, the hitchhiker looks like a nice person. If the hitchhiker is in reality a serial killer, you will die because your opinion of reality was wrong. No matter how sure you were, no matter how sincerely and deeply you believed you were right, you were wrong and you will die because your opinion of reality was incorrect.
Your opinion doesn’t matter; only reality matters. If your thinking is in line with reality, then you will make fewer mistakes and thus suffer less. That is the essence of Abraham Maslow’s self-actualizing theory.
My question to you is this: Are you experiencing a decrease in your symptoms and is your life improving as a result of your therapy? If so, that’s a good thing. That’s the goal of therapy, to improve your life and well-being. If your symptoms are increasing and your life is worsening, that is obviously a problem. If you’re experiencing the former and not the latter, then it would seem like your treatment is working.
Regarding how to deal with your “new reality,” accept it for what it is. We must all seek and accept the truth. What is true is real and what is real is true. The more you can see reality the safer and happier you will be.
If you would like to write back to ask a more specific question, I could provide you with a more specific answer. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle